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Pogba, Lukaku on the move from Man United?

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Two of Manchester United’s star players have been linked with moves away from Old Trafford.

A report from Calciomercato.com claims that Paul Pogba‘s agent, Mino Raiola, has agreed “a deal in principle” for Barcelona to sign the French international midfielder. Per the report, Arturo Vidal has been persuading Barcelona’s coach Ernesto Valverde to push for the move for his former teammate at Juventus.

Speaking of Juve, it seems like Romelu Lukaku fancies a move to Turin. Speaking during the international break, Lukaku was asked about the reigning Italian champions and if he’d ever want to move to Serie A.

“Why not?” Lukaku told Gazzetta dello Sport. “I hope it happens. Juve have a great project in place and they just keep going. Every year they try to get stronger. Without doubt, Juve are one of the two-three best teams in Europe. They’ve got a great coach on the bench and extraordinary players in every area of the team.”

What is the likelihood of one or both of these deals happening?

Pogba, 25, heading to Barca has been rumbling along for quite some time but given the vast amount of cash Barcelona already spend on wages, how on earth will they be able to generate the funds to not only sign Pogba but pay his weekly salary? If they sold one of their star players for a huge transfer fee, then maybe this would happen. Until then, Raiola can agree the deal in principle but United seem to have little interest in selling Pogba, despite his clashes with Jose Mourinho over the past few seasons.

Lukaku, 25, has over three years remaining on the contract he signed when he joined United from Everton in the summer of 2017 and given his output of 31 goals in 62 games for the Red Devils, few could argue he hasn’t delivered what has been asked of him. Even if his record against the top-six teams isn’t the best, Lukaku is the focal point of United’s attack and you could argue he isn’t getting the kind of service he needs week in, week out.

There is no way Pogba and Lukaku would be allowed to leave United at the same time, and even if Mourinho left between now and the end of the season, they’d likely stick around to see who the new manager would be.

The timing of this report and Lukaku’s comments is rather interesting. After a tough run of games for Mourinho and with his job said to be in danger, hearing some of United’s players are either keen on other clubs or have their agents working behind-the-scenes on a move suggests that they believe Mourinho will be sticking around for the foreseeable future.

Report: Ibrahimovic could return to AC Milan

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic could be a one-season wonder in Major League Soccer.

After a spectacular 22-goal, 10-assist campaign for the LA Galaxy, Gazzetta Dello Sport reports that Ibrahimovic is waiting for the phone to ring from AC Milan sporting director Leonardo, with a potential six-month deal in Milan on the table. Ibrahimovic and Leonardo have history – Leonardo was at Paris Saint-Germain when Ibrahimovic joined…from AC Milan, where Ibrahimovic played for two seasons, from 2010 through 2012.

[READ: Oscar Pareja departs FC Dallas for Tijuana]

The 37-year-old striker is now 18 months removed from tearing the ACL in his right knee and showed few injury worries during his time with the Galaxy, where he started in 24 or 27 matches after joining in May. The report in Italy claims that Zlatan could earn upwards of $2.3 million for his six-month stint at Milan, which is more than he earned in base salary in one season in the U.S.

If this is the end of Zlatan’s time in MLS, he leaves having proven that he took the league seriously but also how embarrassingly bad the LA Galaxy’s defense was in 2018. There’s just no way that a team with 22 goals from Ibrahimovic should miss the playoffs.

The big Swede joins the likes of Didier Drogba and Wayne Rooney as recent European imports who had an instant impact in MLS. However, Ibrahimovic won’t be remembered alongside players such as David Beckham, Robbie Keane, Thierry Henry and David Villa, all of whom had huge long-term impacts in MLS and for their clubs.

UEFA: FFP rules must be “strong and clear”

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Current UEFA general secretary Aleksander Ceferin is making a robust statement about his intentions to hold teams accountable under Financial Fair Play.

In the wake of reports from Football Leaks, published through Der Spiegel, alleging that both Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain had overvalued sponsorships to get around FFP rules, Ceferin told the BBC that the same type of corporate actions may not continue under his watch.

[READ: Ceferin says European Super League is “fiction”]

“I don’t want to speak about Man City or PSG but for any club the rules have to be strong and clear,” Ceferin said. “We will act by the book, by the regulations. We know that we have to modernize. We know we have to check the rules and regulations all the time. We know that the situation in the football market is changing all the time. So that’s also part of our thinking for the future – do we have to do something about the regulations to be more robust? Yes.”

The new Football Leaks allegations aren’t exactly breaking news. UEFA ruled in 2014 that Man City had broken FFP rules, eventually settling with the club for around $63 million in today’s dollars, the same price Man City soon paid Liverpool for Raheem Sterling. The settlement helped Man City avoid being barred from the UEFA Champions League as well as help avoid UEFA losing key sponsorships and advertising revenue with one of the big clubs out of the spotlight.

FFP is a double-edged sword for UEFA. It was instituted by former UEFA president Michel Platini as a way to curb overspending and keep clubs from spending so much they became insolvent – look at Rangers or Valencia, for example. However, the way the rules were implemented, it almost forced the status quo to remain the same, just as billionaires from the Middle East and Asia were prepared to pump billions into their clubs, without having to worry about debts.

In order for PSG and Man City to become giants, the clubs needed to invest massively, and while both teams may have broken FFP rules, if they’re operating within their means, it should be allowed. Ceferin’s statement is bold, but it’s one that he’ll have to back up with action if a big club breaks FFP rules again. Is UEFA willing to jeopardize advertising revenue to keep the likes of Man City, or Barcelona or PSG out? We’ll see.

Portugal unaware of joint World Cup bid with Spain, Morocco

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LISBON, Portugal (AP) A Portuguese official says Spain has made no approach about the possibility of presenting a three-way bid to host the 2030 World Cup with Morocco.

Education Minister Tiago Brandao Rodrigues, who oversees sports, says he has “no formal knowledge of any official announcement about a three-way bid.”

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

He also says he believes FIFA does not allow joint bids from separate confederations – in this case, UEFA and the Confederation of African Football.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez supposedly conveyed the bid offer to Moroccan counterpart Saad Eddine El Othmani during a brief visit to the north African country.

Bids to host the 2030 World Cup are being considered by countries in South America and England.

French prosecutor opens probe into alleged discrimination at PSG

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PARIS (AP) The Paris prosecutors’ office has opened an investigation into alleged discrimination by Paris Saint-Germain following a complaint by France’s League of Human Rights, which claims that club scouts illegally profiled potential recruits by their origin.

The investigation includes the supposed collection of personal information in a fraudulent, disloyal or illegal way and conserving personal information which “directly or indirectly” reveals racial or ethnic origins.

The action came three days after PSG said an internal investigation had found “no proven case of discrimination.”

PSG has acknowledged that forms with “illegal content were used between 2013 and 2018.” However, it declined responsibility for implementing the policy.